Review: Family feud continues to propel delightfully profane 'Ozark'

In Season 3 of the Netflix hit, Julia Garner is still on fire, though the show has less for her to do

Tom Long
Special to The Detroit News

The term “domestic dispute” takes on dangerous weight in the new season of “Ozark.”

Those disputing would be husband and wife Marty (Jason Bateman) and Wendy (Laura Linney) Byrde. Forced to move from a Chicago suburb to a Missouri summer resort so they can launder money for a Mexican drug cartel, the show’s first two seasons ended with the couple at odds: Marty had been ready to make a run for it with his family but Wendy, taking the reins, decided to continue the laundry business via a riverboat casino.

Julia Garner in "Ozark."

The show has been a wondrous dark delight of oddball characters, offbeat plot turns and slow character evolutions, but in its third season things progress in a more straightforward manner. Only one new character is introduced — Wendy’s somewhat carefree brother Ben (Tom Pelphrey) — and the push-pull betrayals of Wendy and Marty, each thinking they’re doing what’s right, stay the main tension.

The show’s not-at-all secret weapon has always been the fantastically foul-mouthed Ruth (Emmy-winner Julia Garner), a (literal) trailer-trash budding crook who becomes Marty’s right hand. But Ruth isn’t really as crucial a cog this season, and while Garner still crackles, the show doesn’t seem to know what to do with her.

Which is disappointing but “Ozark” still has its crazy nooks and crannies — Ruth’s young cousin Wyatt (Charlie Tahan) takes up with the much older deranged opium grower Darlene (Lisa Emery), things like that — and the troubled, still-loving chemistry between Marty and Wendy remains powerful. Plus gangsters, drug cartels, body counts, all the standard pleasures of crime shows.

It’s still "Ozark," it's still a gas, and there's still blessed satisfaction in the incongruous sight of wisp-of-a-girl Ruth fearlessly cursing everything in sight; she remains a woman of our times.

Tom Long is a longtime contributor to The Detroit News. 

'Ozark: Season Three'